The Echoes of the Mind (60) Memory Creation


Memory is never a precise duplicate of the original; it is a continuing act of creation. ~ American psychologist Rosalind Cartwright

Memories are made from perception, cognition, and intuition. Memories from perception are often autonomic, with emotive impact acting as a decisive factor.

Willful memory creation requires focus. While intention helps, the mind has its own priorities, tucking away information nuggets subconsciously. Even a disciplined mind is beyond the confines of volition when it comes to memory.

Surprise sparks memories for infants. When events contravene expectations, babies investigate and form new mental models.

Infants not only selectively explore objects that violate their expectations but also explore in ways specific to the violation. ~ American cognitive scientist Laura Schulz

The most intensely remembered memories involve emotive stress. During a traumatic event, the body releases 2 associated stress hormones: cortisol and norepinephrine.

Norepinephrine stimulates the fight-or-flight response: spiking when individuals feel threatened or experience intense emotions. Elevated norepinephrine focuses the system on the immediate moment. As norepinephrine abets concentration, it is instrumental in learning. Cortisol ramps blood sugar, providing energy. Cortisol amplifies the effect of norepinephrine in memory formation.

Negative experiences are more readily remembered when an event is traumatic enough to release cortisol after the event, and only if norepinephrine is released during or shortly after the event. ~ American psychologist Sabrina Segal

As an evolutionary survival mechanism, negative memories are more easily formed and deeply ingrained than positive ones. Hence, memories of happy happenings are hazier and more readily fade, while traumas and stressful experience are chiseled in detail.

Contrastingly, babies are more likely to remember something if it resonates with emotional positivity. Reinforcing a desire to live is important during early development.

Positive affect heightens babies’ attention and arousal. ~ American development psychologist Ross Flom

While stress intensifies long-term memory storage, it hampers working memory.

In response to acute, uncontrollable stress, we become distracted and disorganized, and our working memory abilities worsen, leaving prepotent or habitual responses to control our behavior. Yet our memories of the stressful event are actually better than usual. ~ American cognitive scientist Amy Arnsten

Much goes into memory of which we have scant awareness. Conscious and subconscious memory work the same pathways. Other than implicit memory slipping in under the radar of awareness, there is no significant distinction between the two in creating memories.

Our minds process vast amounts of information outside our consciousness, beyond language. ~ David Myers